Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Think the Pubbie Party Has Problems?

Dreher finds this nugget from Michael Lind--a Democrat, we remind you...

For a generation, the white-collar liberals who now dominate the Democratic Party have shown a remarkable ability to dress up their own economic interests in the rhetoric of globalization and anti-racism while attacking the motives and assaulting the characters of Americans who are far less wealthy and privileged. They conveniently forget to pay taxes for their illegal-immigrant maids and nannies, and then they denounce fellow citizens who can't afford servants as Nazi-like xenophobes for insisting that all immigrants, not just some, obey federal immigration laws. They use their status as alumni of elite universities to get their mediocre children admitted by means of legacy programs (class-based affirmative action), and then they blame racism when working-class and middle-class whites criticize race-based affirmative action. They benefit from a regulated national labor market that effectively restricts the number of lawyers, MBAs and teachers allowed to practice in the US, and then they altruistically offer to sacrifice the livelihoods of American factory workers to help out the Chinese poor and to put American farms out of business to help the African poor. They claim that by living in expensive doorman buildings in fashionable downtowns and using uneconomical, taxpayer-subsidized mass transit they are saving the planet from global warming, and then they criticize working-class Americans with a fraction of their incomes who can only afford to live in exurbs and shop at Sam's Club as sprawl-creating slobs. And they nod their heads in agreement when the elite editorial pages tell them on a near-daily basis that the greatest threat to America's future is not ruthlessly nationalistic Asian mercantilism or lawless hedge-fund operations, but the danger that Congress might respond to the frightening number of non-Ivy League graduates in the electorate by enacting Buy American or Hire American policies which might inconvenience IRA investments or make it harder to hire an au pair.

The support of affluent liberals with attitudes like these helped Barack Obama to defeat his (somewhat) more populist rivals in the Democratic primaries. In his unguarded remarks to rich Californian donors in April 2008, Obama made his "bitter" gaffe about people from "these small towns" who lose their jobs and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them" that Republicans undoubtedly have ready to roll out again on a feedback loop on talk radio. Obama's "bitter" remarks echoed the "status anxiety" theory of populism promoted in the 1950s and 1960s by liberal scholars that looked out (and down) at populist Americans and saw, not Lockean-Jeffersonian democratic republicans with legitimate grievances struggling to preserve their independence against corporations and plutocrats, but crypto-fascist Central Europeans who might vote an American Hitler into power. The caricature of American populists by mid-century liberal professors was the grandest misunderstanding of American political culture since Leon Trotsky, visiting the US, began a speech: "Workers and peasants of the Bronx!" And yet as the farmer-labor component of the Democratic Party has dwindled, stereotypes about working-class and rural Americans have grown even stronger among the liberal intelligentsia.

Oh, yes they have!

No comments: